As the nation grapples with tough conversations on race and equality a group of teens in the Fearless Summer Youth Leadership Academy are taking on those tough questions to build a healthier society.
Teen dating violence, human trafficking, racism, and oppression are just some of the topics these teens will tackle over the four-week academy taking place both virtually and in socially distanced classrooms this year because of COVID-19.
"I think it’s really easy to have the conversations about the topics but what’s difficult is okay now what do I do about it; I’m seeing these problems in my community now what?" said Zoe Mahan the education manager for Fearless Hudson Valley.
Teens from across the Hudson Valley meet with educators twice a week on Zoom and once a week in person to discuss the issues with their peers and engage in projects that help them learn how to tackle issues like race and equality in their communities.
"A lot of my friends are of color so it made me realize the injustice that’s going on even if I don’t experience it myself so I want to be able to use my privilege to help them and everybody else in my community," said Ryann Chatfield a junior at Cornwall Central High School.
Each student must design a community action project by the end of the program, aimed at creating change in their community. Dahlia Jones wants to bring Fearless HV educators into her high school this year to help teach more teens about domestic abuse and oppression.
"We kind of talk about ways to help the black lives matter movement and how to help any people who are being oppressed nowadays so we talk about how to be an LGBTQ ally, how to be a feminist," said Dahlia Jones a junior at Cornwall Central High School.
Jones hopes to take these lessons with her as she pursues her dream job.
"I really want to become either a writer or a journalist so I’m hoping every step I take whether it’s this leadership program or having them come to my school is helping me get there and be a leader and kind of write the things that need to be heard," said Jones.